Nick, John, and Tim Frank are the brothers behind Toronto-based Frank Brothers Guitars. The Frank brothers began their custom guitar business in 2014 with a sketch of a guitar and the drive required to learn how to build guitars from scratch.
With no prior woodworking, design, or luthier experience, the self-taught brothers have evolved into a well-known niche guitar company popular with musicians worldwide.
Some of the artists the Frank brothers have worked with include Trey Anastasio (Phish), Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies), Leandra Earl (The Beaches), Eli Maiman (Walk The Moon), and many others. Handmade guitars are a niche market consisting mainly of established musicians and traditionalists, which the Frank brothers understand well.
“Some of the materials we use today are the same materials used in the 1950s, 1940s,” Tim Frank says.
He’s also aware of the ethical responsibility that comes with harvesting the wood required to make a custom guitar and wants people to know that the wood used in Frank Brothers Guitars is responsible.
“We’re really careful about sourcing sustainably and ethically-sourced materials. A lot of our mahogany comes from community forests in Southern Mexico. Sourcing materials sustainably is important to us because we don’t use a lot of materials (guitars aren’t that big), and we don’t make a lot of them,” he adds.
Community forests play an essential part in the broader sustainability picture by offering community members a stake in forest management decisions and land value benefits. A practice crucial to the Frank brothers because it means better quality materials that stem from ethical practices.
“It’s also important for us to have a steady supply chain. We try and find materials that we can continue to find over and over again,” says Tim.
Recreating a Frank guitar design is essential because it stems from a classic style that began in the early 1950s.
“Most guitar designs stem from a golden-era of guitar design when electric guitars started in the ’50s. What we wanted to do was embrace that traditional esthetic and do something familiar but different. We’re not trying to be super modern or create some kind of ergonomic design, but it’s something unique that we’re bringing to the market,” says Tim.
It takes seven to eight months to create a unique handmade guitar for a client, but most of that time doesn’t involve carving wood.
“It takes anywhere from 60-80 working hours to build a guitar, but you can’t do every step in a row,” Tim says. “A lot of that time is spent waiting for glue or lacquer to dry. It’s a lot of patiently waiting.”
Most Frank Brothers Guitars are built-to-order. Customers can choose an existing design or build an entirely custom guitar using the company’s website builder. Tim urges people to call the shop to help with custom builds or ask any unanswered questions.
Tim’s happy to have found a strong following in Canada and across the world, but if there’s one guitarist he’d love to see play a Frank Guitar, it’s Bonnie Raitt.
“Bonnie Raitt is a great guitar player,” Tim says.
For more information on Frank Brothers Guitars go to their website at Frankbrothersguitars.com.